Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (630)

Anne Rabbitte


630. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department notifies the city and county childcare committees when a crèche is due to have its registration removed; if so, the number of such notifications issued in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52620/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The removal of crèches from the Register of Early Years Services is the ultimate sanction by Tusla, the independent statutory Regulator. It comes at the end of an enforcement process, during which a provider is afforded fair procedure, and generally provided with several opportunities to rectify matters and meet regulatory requirements. Tusla does not take the decision lightly and generally does so because of persistent and serious non-compliance with the Regulations. While there is a right of appeal to the District Court within 21 days, the services will be required to close after the notice period.

The safety and protection of children remains the first priority of the regulator and indeed of Government. Safety and protection is assured through the enforcement of regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.

I acknowledge that de-registrations can cause significant challenges for parents in finding alternative childcare provision, and I have great sympathy for parents in this situation. But, I firmly believe that robust enforcement of the Regulations is in children's interests and is the right thing to do. 

Where a service is removed from the register, the staff of 30 Department funded City and County Childcare Committees around the country are available to support parents who need help finding an alternative service. Officials in my Department liaise closely with the relevant Childcare Committee to ensure that everything possible is being done for parents affected by closures. 

The regulations in this area still relatively new. Since the Register of Early Years Services was created in 2016, six services have been removed from the register, and a further six have been notified that they are required to close in the coming weeks. My Department has worked closely with the relevant City and County Childcare Committees in relation to capacity issues arising from de-registrations in the respective areas.

In recent cases, Childcare Committees have operated extended opening hours to support parents. The Childcare Committees have also been actively supporting and exploring the development of alternative childcare options in the locality.